Archives for May 2018
SAWMILLS POSE HIGH RISK OF WORKER INJURY
Unlike lumberyards, sawmills are more industrial in nature, and are considered one of the most hazardous occupations by OSHA. Logged timber is typically delivered on-site via flatbed trailer and stacked in a central intake location in the yard. Logs are then transferred via conveyors into the mill where the first stop is the debarker. Just like it sounds, this process removes the bark from the tree. The debarker is a heavy industrial machine with a spinning, grinder-like head that literally chips and grinds the bark off the outer edge of the log. Once debarked, logs are trimmed and fed across an industrial sized table saw with a 60-inch circular saw blade that cuts the debarked logs into boards. Finally, the cut lumber is graded for sale to the builder or lumberyard, whomever the customer may be. Scraps are run through a chipper and made into mulch product and sawdust is collected for resale to equestrian arenas.
The whole process is amazing. It is also high risk. Sawmill workers frequently suffer eye injuries, lacerations, and amputations. Noise exposures are high. Inhalation of sawdust is a constant respiratory exposures. Safety is critical and personal protective equipment is a must in this operation to protect hands, feet, eyes, and ears. Good housekeeping practices are critical to reduce trip hazards created by debris. Machine guarding becomes high priority in an industrial operation of this nature. One small mistake can result in immediate and irreparable harm or fatality.
Sawmills tend to be located in rural areas. Fire risk is high given the amount of wood, chips, and sawdust on site. Wiring can be a concern, as many sawmills have been in business for years and their electrical systems may or may not have been adequately updated throughout the years. Rural locations often have volunteer fire departments and these exposures tend to be located farther away from the responding station, contributing to their risk of fire. These factors make on-site fire protection even more important. Adequate extinguishers should be located throughout the facility, and employees should be trained on fire extinguisher operation. This environment is fraught with hazard. It is the employers’ responsibility, and both the employers’ and employees’ commitment to safety that assures these workers go home to their loved ones at the end of the day.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Nail guns are commonly found on construction sites and account for a high number of hand and foot injuries every year. Many of these injuries occur as workers are climbing ladders, and most are attributed to multi-shot contact trigger nail guns. While hand and foot injuries are the most commonly reported injuries, there are multiple recorded cases of nail gun injuries to the skull.
OSHA reports 37,000 emergency room visits for nail gun injuries each year.
Nail guns are powerful pneumatic tools. These injuries can cause ligament damage, tissue damage, bone damage, and serious infection. Head injuries can lead to blindness, deafness, mental impairment, paralysis, and death.
It is imperative that carpenters and construction workers know how to safely operate nail guns. The full sequential trigger nail gun is the safest available, as this trigger requires a specific sequence of activation controls to discharge. The safety tip must be firmly pressed against a surface and the trigger must be squeezed. The trigger must be released and reactivated for the gun to discharge another nail. There is no automatic discharge of nails without squeezing the trigger for each nail.
Contact trigger guns, on the other hand, will fire when the controls are activated in any order. Thus, the user can squeeze the trigger and then depress the contact against the surface to discharge a nail, or the user can first depress the contact against a surface, and then squeeze the trigger. If the user continues to hold the trigger in the squeezed/activation position, a nail will discharge each time the contact is depressed against a surface. This is known as bump-firing.
Single sequential trigger nail guns operate similar to the full sequential, in that the controls must be activated in a specific order. The difference between these nail guns is that the single sequential trigger is that the contact does not have to be moved and re-depressed against the surface to discharge another nail; rather, only the trigger must be released and reactivated to discharge sequential nails. This trigger does not allow bump-firing of nails.
The single actuation trigger nail gun operates by pushing the safety contact, squeezing the trigger, and depressing the contact tip against a surface. Multiple nails can be discharged by releasing the trigger, moving the tool, and squeezing the trigger again, without releasing the safety contact tip.
Workers are frequently injured as a result of double-fire or unintended discharge of a nail (unintended sequential discharge of a nail or accidental contact of the tip with a surface), puncture resulting from penetration of a nail through a piece of lumber, ricochet of a nail off a knot in the wood or contact with some other hard surface, and even missing the intended target altogether. Construction workers often find themselves manipulating around tight corners and awkward angles, which can lead to injury.
Proper training, mandatory PPE (including hard hats), and established nail gun work procedures are critical in protecting your construction crew. Nail guns are a valuable tool at the work site, but pose a high degree of risk and require skill for safe operation. Use the right tool for the job, but be knowledgeable, be alert, and be prepared.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
May is Electrical Safety Month
Lumberyards are a specialty risk with multiple hazards. These exposures typically have a retail storefront which is open to heavy pedestrian traffic and stock multiple small quantity containers of chemicals – household cleaners, paints and thinners, adhesives, pesticides, fertilizers – and solvents.
Most lumberyards have multiple buildings on site for storage of lumber, doors, windows, plywood, fencing, and other building materials. Warehouse areas are stocked with insulation, drywall, flooring, plumbing and electrical supplies, and palletized goods. The outbuildings may be of an open-face lean-to design or a T-shed design, and are often constructed of metal. Load-bearing frame may be either wood or steel.
Forklifts are standard equipment for reaching and moving lumber from one location to another. Tractors and small loaders may be used on the property. Diesel tanks and propane tanks are located on these properties, which require proper containment and protection. Some lumberyards fill or exchange propane tanks, while others store only spare tanks for forklift use.
Many lumberyards cut boards to customer specs. Others routinely build and sell doghouses and storage sheds. Most of these cutting operations involve table saws, chop saws, and panel saws which are located in the outbuildings. Sometimes there is a designated building for all cutting operations, while other times, saws are located throughout the property. Extension cord use is common. All buildings where cutting operations are performed typically have a dedicated electrical panel, which may or may not be in good repair.
Lumberyards frequently also rent equipment to their customers. This may include trucks, car haulers, trailers, small loaders and trenchers, portable scaffolding, lawn and garden equipment, power washers, and more. Rental agreements should be used, and should require written acknowledgment from the customer customer that operational instructions were received for the rented equipment.
Some critical considerations for lumberyard safety include:
- Fire extinguishers should be placed in readily available areas of all buildings
- Fuel tanks should be protected from traffic and properly contained
- Saws should be inspected regularly for missing guards and frayed cords
- Extension cord use should be kept to a minimum, and saws should be disconnected when not in use
- Eye and ear protection should be required of all personnel performing wood shop duties
- Masks and gloves should be provided
- Ladders should be inspected routinely and damaged ladders retired
- Protective footwear should be worn.
By no means is the above list exhaustive. Lumberyard employees are exposed to multiple hazards on a daily basis. Formal safety procedures are critical in controlling exposures in this industry, where injuries can range from minor laceration to fatal electrocution.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Crane & rigging operations are highly regulated by OSHA, and safety begins long before any equipment arrives on-site. Contracts have been negotiated and signed. Equipment has been certified prior to transport. Certified operators and signal persons have been hired. Safety is a tremendous responsibility, and has been delegated to the General Contractor or Superintendent. Safety Programs are reviewed, and Safety Plans are coordinated among subcontractors. Site Specific Safety Plans are developed and approved, and Crane Safety Plans (including specific Lift Plans) are developed to address crane safety at each step of the job. Our crane and rigging customers have the most detailed safety plans we encounter. Safety is a critical concern at every level, and requires the involvement of architects and engineers.
As with any construction project, site safety defines access and security of a site and equipment security. Due to their size, crane and rigging operations pose special considerations for protecting adjacent properties. Site terrain, securement of equipment, weather assessment, weight and load parameters, arrangement and inspection of rigging equipment all impact a safe lift.
Transportation, erection, and dismantling of cranes present their own concerns. High axle loads and positioning of equipment can create high ground pressures impacting stability. Professional engineers are required to assess the impact of numerous factors on equipment to assure safety during each stage of crane erection, dismantling, and transport.
Safety is an obvious priority in this highly regulated and high risk industry, and requires detailed documentation compliance. Safety programs and plans should be readily accessible on-site. A safety coordinator should be designated to maintain all documentation. A safety trailer should be established and should contain first aid and extra PPE. Communication between the GC, contractors, managers, supervisors, workers, and vendors is critical. Clear lines of responsibility must be drawn, and coordination of all parties is essential to project safety. Safe, professional management of the job site substantially reduces the risk of catastrophic incident.